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Georgian Lady for "Scenes, paysages, moeurs - GAGARINE, Prince Grégoire - ????? - 1839. 
c. - 1840 1839 - Watercolour on paper (24 x 12 cm), offered together with its hand-coloured lithograph (34.5 x 24.2 cm) - plate 26 from "Scenes, paysages, moeurs et costumes du Caucase" (A. Hauser, Paris, c. 1840), with a blind stamp "A.B." in lower margin; two small marginal tears, light waterstain in right margin nor affecting image. An original sketch of a Georgian lady by one of the most famous Russian explorers of the Caucasus of the XIX century; here offered together with its lithograph from a very rare work on Caucasian costumes. This watercolour was painted by Gagarin as part of the series in 1839-1840 when he travelled to the Caucasus following his friend Mikhail Lermontov. It was shortly published in Paris in the work "Costumes du Caucase", which was intended to form part of a larger work depicting the scenes, landscape, customs and costumes of the Caucasus and be issued in 48 livraisons. However, Colas states that only 11 of these were issued, each containing 6 plates of costumes. Even individual plates of this work are rare. Prince Gagarin (1810-93), a painter, architect and art critic, was a Vice-president of the Petersburg Academy of Arts in 1859-72. He studied with Bryusov and was a member of the brilliant high society in St. Petersburg, where in his early years he met Pushkin and drew illustrations for some of his works. A friend of Lermontov, he went with him to the Caucasus, where he stayed on military and public service during almost 15 years until 1855. He lived a few years in Tiflis (nowadays Tbilisi) and before that had the opportunity to travel to various parts of the region, especially Dagestan. He was a cultivated, sensitive mind with artistic talents and a taste for details and observation. Whether during his missions, his vacation or his stay in town, Gagarin made numerous sketches of the local topography, architecture, decorations, life, costumes and important people. This rare sketch allows to see the artist's skill and attention to the detail, as well as Gagarine's eagerness to depict real people rather then a "general type". René Colas, a compiler of the major bibliography of costumes and fashion, highly praised Gagrine's depictions: "Plusieurs planches representent des costumes très intéressants pour la Georgie". The drawing comes from a private collection of Sarkis Boghossian and was published in his monumental work "Armenian Iconography" that gathers ____ prints and drawings on the subject. Boghossian's biography resembles a thriller novel. Born in 1921 in a small Armenian village in today's Turkey, Boghossian was taken to Marseille at the age of six by his family that fled famine and oppression. Passionate about art, poetry and Armenian culture, he chose a career of bookseller. In 1967 Boghossian opened a rare bookshop in Paris, "Le XIXe siècle", specialising in rare books and engravings related to Armenia. In autumn 1998 the French booksellers' community woke up to shocking news that Boghossian had been found dead in his Parisian flat, tortured and murdered, with a number of valuable books missing from the apartment. Police quickly traced the murderer, who, however, hardly resembled the idea one may have of an assassin. He was a French bookseller of Turkish origin and a renowned scholar with a PhD from Sorbonne specialising in Ottoman and Armenian history. He was apparently in dispute with Boghossian over a number of rare books that the latter kept as a guarantee against a cash loan. The bookseller was arrested and subsequently sentenced to 19 years in prison just when he was due to give a lecture at a conference in Nice titled "The Armenian merchants in the Mediterranean in the eighteenth century". Sarkis Boghossian "Armenian Iconography II" 839 and 840 p.114 and 115 - Paris, 1998; For the book see Colas 1147; Lipperheide 1384.
[Bookseller: Shapero Rare Books]
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